Local experts drawn from the manufacturing sector, government and academia have urged stakeholders in the sector to work together to bridge the gap between imports and exports in order to shift Kenya’s economy from a trading to manufacturing nation.
The experts reiterated the need to have need-based policies and incentives such as credit loans, tax incentives and policies that will encourage the purchase of local products instead of importation to encourage local and foreign investments.
They stressed the need to specifically encourage the struggling small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), through the Buy Kenya, Build Kenya Initiative, which they said, is aimed at inculcating in the mind of all Kenyan citizens, patriotism and preference for Kenyan goods and services as a means of supporting the domestic economy.
The experts were reviewing the state of the manufacturing sector in Kenya during the Transform Kenya initiative organized by Standard Media Group at Daystar University, Thursday, July 4, 2019.
Trade and Industrialization Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya acknowledged that the government was aware of the challenges in the manufacturing sector, while stating” government was working on multiple policies and incentives to reduce the cost of doing business, improve power infrastructure, making registration of companies easy, eliminating counterfeits and tax reduction from 6% to 2%”.
The Cabinet Secretary further said, plans were underway to revive the cottage industries and expansion of the credit lines to the SMEs.
He urged Kenyans to refrain from the notion that imports were superior to the local products stating that local products need to be locally purchased to create pathways to the international markets.
JKUAT Deputy Vice Chancellor, in charge of Administration, Prof. Bernard Ikua, spoke extensively on the place of academia in the manufacturing sector. He said, universities were actively playing their role in the sector, highlighting quality and productivity as the driving force.
“JKUAT has innovated multiple agro-processing machines and conducted trainings for farmers. The University was recently in Kwale and Kilifi to train SMEs and farmers on the coconut value addition and value chains under the Manufacturing Research Chair programme which is one of the two research chairs in Kenya,” said Prof. Ikua.
JKUAT Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Mary Abukutsa, said it was time to look up to the universities for innovations that will improve the sector.
Prof. Abukutsa stated that JKUAT had more than 40 patented innovations, and appealed to the government to help move them from the shelves to the market.